Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hand Piecing at Quilt University

I'll be teaching my Hand Piecing class at Quilt University beginning this weekend and its not too late to registerIf you've never considered working just by hand here's a brief introduction to get you started:
Why would quilters consider hand piecing? Some people may think, "Hand piecing? Why bother? Didn’t we get rid of that a long time ago? There are so many newer speedier methods!"

Handwork has really never gone out of fashion. There are times and places where working by hand is the best method. We cannot always haul the sewing machine, cutters, mats and rulers with us wherever we go. Thus, piecing some or all of our quilts by hand stitching can be a perfect answer for portability and the opportunity to use spare moments of time.
Is portability the only reason to hand piece? I think there are several good reasons, some of which apply at different times depending on our needs and moods. Here are a few to consider:

It is relaxing; we have to sit down to do our work. This is different from sitting at our machine where we have to concentrate on the machine and where the needle is in relation to our fingers. In hand piecing we can pick a comfortable chair, curl up in front of the TV or at the beach; I often stitch while my husband is driving during holidays, with the map close at hand. We can relax and hand piece any time and anywhere we choose. The stitching is repetitive; almost always it is a running stitch, which is easy to manipulate by your fingers, using only a few pins, if needed.

We usually work in small units, concentrating on one unit or block at a time. Accuracy is another key element in hand piecing. When we have small pieces to put together or curved units to join, working by hand ensures that bias edges are kept under control and eased into the seam evenly.

With good preparation, work progresses quickly. Preparation is key for hand piecing. By tracing and cutting all the pieces needed for your work and then having them ready for the hand work, you will save time.

Few tools are needed for your work. Remember that quilters in the past had scissors, needle, thread and pins. So, it is not a costly endeavor to begin your quilt making journey. When I worked in a quilt shop, I often thought that the initial expense of all the modern equipment deterred beginners when they wanted to just try it to see if it was a skill they wanted to pursue. The tools for hand piecing are generally ones which we already have, so expense is not a critical factor.

We can use short periods of time to work on our project. It is easy to find a few spare minutes in our day to pick up a project and add a few stitches. Think of the time spent waiting at doctor’s appointments, while dinner is cooking, or at the kids sporting events. If you have made the preparations that we will discuss in class, small amounts of time can develop into some wonderful work! With hand piecing it is easy to stop in the middle of a seam and then return to complete the seam later. You will not have lost your place. Imagine doing that with your machine piecing!

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